Monday, April 11, 2016

The Last Chapter

This is the email that I never really saw myself writing, but somehow
the time is actually here. I've thought a long time about what I would
say in my last email and what it would be like, it's just so strange
to think that now is the time. Almost two full years have passed since
I left my home in Rochester, and so much has changed all around
me...most of which I probably don't even know about haha. I'd like to
think that for these two years though, there were a lot of changes
that took place in me as well.

Germany has truly become a new home for me, and I have found some of
my closest friends among the German people. In fact, I don't really
want to leave it or them. But, even this roller coaster of a ride has
an end, and I'm nervous but at the same time excited to see what life
brings me next.

I hope that somewhere in my time here I was able to help someone find
light or hope for something better, and a lot of people say that two
years is a long time to offer, but you know what? It was worth every
single day. Not one day have I regretted my decision, not one day have
I looked back and wished I hadn't put my life on hold. This is the
greatest thing I could have done with two years of my life, and I am
so happy, grateful, and speechless that the Lord and the church
provide this amazing opportunity for clumsy, selfish, foolish, lazy
teenagers like me to serve others. I left a boy, but I hope I come
back a man and make something more of myself.

As this last week went on, the reality that it was my last week really
took effect, and I had it hard a few times, but this week was amazing
and I want to share some of my last mission memories with you all.

Last Monday I was having a rough start to my morning. Elder Lewis and
I decided to go get haircuts and the lady cutting my hair asked me if
I thought everything written in the bible and Book of Mormon were just
stories. Even though that would be easy, I told her I knew they
weren't because I had found out for myself that they were true. I
think she was impressed when I told her it wasn't because of my
family, but it really gave me the opportunity to be uplifted by
telling her what makes me happy in this life.

One night after a busy day, a member took us to get some curry wurst!
It was really good, but when we walked outside my stomach was telling
me that ice cream would be good to chase down the fries and curry
wurst. We were in luck when the building connected to our little whole
in the wall was an ice cream shop. It was so good, American ice cream
doesn't have anything on Italian ice cream. Anyways, we got talking to
the owner about what we do and he told us he'd love for us to come by
whenever we are in the area and business is slow and to just talk
about God. Pretty cool right? Hey who knows, maybe the missionaries
will start getting free ice cream!!

I love moves. Maybe it's just because I'm a missionary and it's
something out of the ordinary...but I love moves and clean outs. We
actually cleaned out the basement of the the church with the ward
which was way fun, and we found old church magazines from the 60s and
a bunch of other cool little treasures we got to take home. One of the
highlights of my day though was when our bishop let me ride his
electric longboard! It's got a handheld remote and it goes really

After the clean out we were given special permission to attend a
baptismal service for a couple in Duisburg that elder Lewis had taught
while he was there. We have such amazing members, and one of them was
kind enough to drive Annegret there and she loved it! I really do
believe it got her thinking. She's such a special lady, I'm excited to
see when she gets baptized.

On our way to a members house, a man in the train spoke to us and
asked us what we were doing and why we were doing it. It was really
cool to be able to testify to this guy about what we do everyday, and
he was really interested and wants to meet with us this week. He asked
for anything that we normally hand out but the only thing I had was a
Book of Mormon so I gave it to him. He was so surprised we would give
something like that away for free, but it was so cool to meet someone
with genuine interest. He'll be awesome.

My last day at church was really hard. I was really stressing out
about a bunch of things, and I was just having a really hard time
accepting that that would be my last church service with these members
and in German. But the Lord really helped me out, calmed me down, and
everything came out for the better. I'm really not much of a person to
cry, but I got up to give my final words to the congregation and I
totally broke down, but the spirit filled me and it was a special
moment for me.

I'll never forget these people, and I'm so grateful for their
lovingness and kindness towards me. They have set such good examples
for me, and let me just say how glad I am there is Facebook!! I think
I'm about as ready as I'll ever be to come home, so I'm excited to
hear from you all and see you again. So, wish me a good flight and
I'll see you soon!

Elder Andrew

Monday, April 4, 2016

My last full week!

Well I can't believe I'm to this point in my mission. I never thought
it would actually happen because it always seemed like such a distant
thing, but now I kind of wish it was far away again! I'll do my best
though to enjoy my very last week in Germany as a missionary for the
Lord. I've had my lows, but I've also had a lot of highs. Hopefully
this last week elder Lewis and I can rock it together!

I'm convinced it was meant to be, but we got some files to start and
organize a fast in our church and they came a little later than I
expected, but they came at a time where we were in a position to
present them to our ward mission leader who would help with all of the
processes. As we were there, he began experiencing severe chest and
back pains and we were very worried, so we gave him a sick blessing
and the ambulance was there minutes later to help him. I don't really
know any details, but I know that he's doing well, and I consider it a
great miracle that we were there for that very moment on that very

Later in the week we watched the restoration video with three of our
friends from Ghana, and they loved it! Their eyes were glued to the
tv, and they were so quiet and had such good questions afterwards. It
was so nice to meet with people that were open. It's so refreshing,
and makes it way more fun for me!

On Sunday we had a special visit from the Kozma family from my ward in
Köln! They drove all the way to Gelsenkirchen to help in our lesson
with our Hungarian investigators. It went so well, and elder Lewis
bore solid and pure testimony that really got everyone in the room
feeling the spirit. Unfortunately two of our friends have to go back
to Hungary, but I think it's a blessing in disguise now that they can
be taught the lessons and have their concerns addressed in Hungarian.
Cool, right?

A few other things happened, but I don't have time to write those. I'm
so excited to come home, but I'm a bit nervous. Can't wait to see you
all! Talk to you next week!

Elder Andrew

Monday, March 28, 2016

Happy Easter

Being in Köln one last time before I go home was pretty fun, and I
wish I had taken more photos, but at the same time I've pretty much
gotten all the photos I want out of that city! I'll see if I can get
access to a computer today and send a few photos home.

Today we are having a sport PDay in Herne with us, Essen, and maybe
some people they are teaching. So we're bringing our American football
and a few other things to mess around with.

Yesterday we met with our Hungarian friends and read with them. It's
pretty funny because I've learned a new dialect in German, that being
cave man. It's hard sometimes getting through what we want to, but we
just read certain things that connect and hope that they make the
connection as well. Brother kozma from my first area said he is going
to try and come next week and teach in person with us.

We had a super awesome lesson with Annegret too and things were
getting a little tight and I bore a really sincere testimony and the
spirit was super strong. She's gotta get baptized she just has to! She
totally sees it, she just needs more time. Too bad I didn't extend!
But, I'm excited to come home.

We had some really really cool contacts this week and it just reminded
me of how awesome and how special my calling is. Recently I've been
reading talks by our prophet Thomas S Monson, and it really just
struck me how important it is to do our duties, but also how much of a
privilege it is to do them and be able to bless and help people as the
lords tool. That's just something I've been studying lately.

Happy Easter everyone, I hope the food was good and the family
reunions as well. Have a good week!

Monday, March 21, 2016

I love Koln!

Today's PDay was amazing since I got to take the other elders around
Köln! It wasn't anything new that I saw, but I truly feel like I'm
home when I'm there, it's an interesting feeling. But, it was amazing
and we had a great time. We even met Sister Nowak in Köln which was so
much fun. I haven't seen her in over a year, so it was nice catching
up with my mission mom.

I kind of managed my time badly today, so I'll share a few short things
about the week.

After an amazing zone conference in Düsseldorf, I got to be with elder
Sommer and the elder he's training, who's actually from Columbia. How
cool! After the conference I talked to the mission president and I
told him how I've never gotten to drive here or on the autobahn, so
since I was going on a split with the zone leaders he said I could as
long as I was careful. You know, some people like basketball, and some
people like board games. Well, I like driving! We needed to run some
errands and ended up driving for over 2 hours, and I loved and
cherished every minute. It was really really weird at first, but I got
used to it after a while. I'll try to send photos next week.

Something super super cool happened on Sunday. We found some Hungarian
guys at a street display and they really didn't speak any German or
English, but we decided to give it a go and we got him and his friend
a Hungarian book. We wanted to go further, and my mind came to the
thought that I could call a member from my first area and have him
translate. He agreed, and it went so well, the spirit was strong! The
guy told us that he and his friend were reading and felt like it was
like the bible, but that there was something special about the book we
gave him. So now we are going to start meeting with them regularly and
read with them.

Things are moving forward here! It's so much fun, I love it! Luckily
it's warming up too. Anyways, have a good one!

Monday, March 14, 2016

This girl was in Kevin's mission and he was her district leader and now she and Tanner know each other - small world!
Strange experience - one for the books!

This last week was both really rewarding and at the same time so
weird! I definitely gained one of those stories from the mission that
you tell anyone and everyone because it was so strange!

Last week we got a potential from a street display, and we called him
up but he wasn't interested at the moment. Well while I was on a split
this guy called the other areas phone and the other missionary picked
it up and gave it to me and told us he needed help and that he wanted
us to visit him at the hospital. Immediately I sensed something was
wrong, but I made out a time to meet him in my own area the next day.

I don't know that anything could have prepared me for what happened!
This guy walks up to us in the hall and starts crying and hugs us
both. Then, we went past the chapel in the hospital and he did some
weird kind of Tim tebow kneel prayer and got up and raised his hands.
Then to make things weirder he went past one of those hand sanitizer
pumps and he pumped it a good ten seconds and washed all the way up to
his arms and then did his whole face. Very long story made very short,
we think he's a schizophrenic because he told us he killed a bunch of
people and he apparently trained with the katana with master
hroshi...his words not mine. So we got out of there pretty quick, but
then we think he started calling the sisters. So it's kind of a mess.

On that split the day earlier we had a weird amount of success but it
was awesome! Some guy we contacted bought us soda and then we talked
for a German guy for like 90 minutes and asked if we could exchange
numbers. He's trying to steal my job and ask my questions!

On Saturday there was a baptism and we wanted Annegret to go so bad
because we felt it was what she needed to make the next step towards
baptism. We did all we could but we couldn't seem to get anything to
work out. As we prayed about what to do we had the name of a member
come to mind and so we called her. She gladly accepted and the next
day both of them were there at the service! It went so great, and she
really felt something. It was so cool!

This work is awesome, and I'm privileged to be here one more month. I
hope the Lord will help me to work hard and be happy, and I hope that
he does the same and blesses you and your family this week. Love you


Monday, March 7, 2016

Goodbye Elder Rogers, Hello Elder Lewis!

It's been a great week and all, but I'm sure glad it's over! Being in
a trio and getting everything all set up once elder Lewis got here was
way stressful. But, it was also a blast!

So, elder Lewis is my last companion, and what a good way for me to go
out too. He's a lot of fun to work with, and he's got a really fun,
contagious, laugh. He started his third transfer and I'm his first
companion besides his trainer. He's really excited to be here, already
loves Gelsenkirchen, and is fired up to get work done by any means, so
I'm really blessed to have a companion that will help me finish
strong. We're going to have a blast!

Thursday was quite the adventure when I woke up to, "elder Andrew, get
up, I forgot to print out my train ticket!" My eyes pretty much shot
open and I jumped off the couch (elder Lewis was snoring that night)
and we were out the door in the next 5 minutes. We got to the church,
printed it out, and then got home as quickly as we could so elder Rogers
could complete the very last of his packing. Pretty much running
through the train station, we saw we had just barely missed his train.
We were feeling a little defeated, but after we said a little prayer
in our hearts, we went to the trip center and they changed his ticket
free of charge. Prayer answered!

We met with one of our investigators, and on his record it says he
never reads. When we got there we asked him if he read what we gave
him. We got the feeling that he didn't, so we read alma 32 with him
and talked about it and how we can grow in faith with the Book of
Mormon and how we can learn to trust it. It was so cool because I've
met with him 3 or so times, and this was the first time he was asking
real questions, and I could tell that the spirit and what we had said
had gotten to him. You could just see the gears turning in his head,
and his questions were so honest and sincere! It was really
refreshing, and we even committed him that if he finds out it is true
that he will get baptized.

On Saturday we were supposed to have a street display, but the form
never came. So rather than give up we just had a big finding activity
in Gelsenkirchen with our district! It was a little strange not having
a stand, but we ended up having a lot of success. And, the Lord
answered a prayer of mine. I don't know why I was feeling so gloomy,
but I wasn't feeling myself, and I didn't feel like getting rejected
for 2 hours. After a long prayer, I started to get going, and I found
people that started saying yes! It was super fun, and we ended up
being really successful with getting numbers and giving out books.

Yesterday we got to experience something really cool as well. We
helped a small Romanian family move a couch into their home the other
week, and we went by to talk to them with a Romanian translator on the
phone. We stayed for about 30 minutes saying they didn't want to take
the lessons, but that they would take a pamphlet when we get it. Once
we left, the woman called back saying she wanted us to go back so she
could see what kind of problems they had so she could help them, so we
went back for another 40 minutes haha. It was so cool though because I
told her it would only take 15 minutes but she went above and beyond
and even called us later that night saying she had just spoken with
them. So wonderful to see people want to help.

Things are picking up here! It's getting more and more fun, and elder

Lewis and I are having a good time. Have a good week!